The traveling pictures show
Teeny-Cine, the mobile movie house
Sacramento may not be known as an experimental-film hub, but two local creatives are looking to challenge this notion by rolling out a new vehicle for moviegoers to experience independent and experimental films. Jenny Stark, a filmmaker and film program coordinator at Sacramento State University, recently paired with commercial photographer Rik Keller to launch Teeny-Cine, a mobile film festival fashioned out of a custom-made camper, to encourage cinephiles to trade in the high-ticket prices and crowds usually found at area multiplexes, and instead explore the avant-garde film world. Featuring art-house cinema, short films and video-art pieces, the venue offers an intimate experience. SN&R sat down with Stark, who is responsible for curating the programming, to talk film, Bundt cakes and David Lynch.
How did the idea for roving, pop-up cinema come about?
The original term, “microcinema,” came from the idea of an independently run, smaller audience, smaller-film type of space. There’s this place in Shreveport, Louisiana, called Minicine that I kind of got the idea from. I’m a filmmaker, and I was also involved in another microcinema in Houston, called Aurora Picture Show, and so I showed some of my little experimental films in places like that. I had been curating at Center for Contemporary Arts, Sacramento, and had just given that up, which freed up a little bit of time. Right around the same time, Rik brought his camper over to his house, and I looked inside and said, “If we put a flat screen against there, we could turn this into a video-art gallery,” and he said, “Yeah, that will work.”
Where did you find the trailer?
[Rik] built this from scratch; it’s not even a refurbished vintage [camper]. He just has a real love for that midcentury-modern [aesthetic], and he just took all of this care into every detail.
How many people can you fit in a single screening, and how long are the films?
Three, but I’ve seen four. I think I’ve even seen five crunched in there. I think that’s the other aspect of it, the length of time, how long each screening will be. If we take this camper to an opening, and our idea is to cycle people through, the screening has to be short, so we’re looking at 15 minutes tops, but we try to keep it at about 10 minutes. So a 10-minute screening is a very different experience than going and seeing an hour, an hour-and-a-half screening of shorts or a screening of a feature-length experimental film. The thing is, they don’t have to commit for an hour of watching this.
How do you find films to screen?
At [my friend, filmmaker] Doug Rice’s [Faraway, So Close exhibition in November 2013 at Fusion international Arts Center], he actually got a hold of a Ryan Coogler [director of Fruitvale Station] short [called Locks] that has a lot of scenes of Oakland, and [Coogler] allowed me to show that, which I thought was really nice. I think one of the ways I'm going to go about this is contacting friends who are filmmakers. I do have a call for entries out. I think for now, I'm probably going to be asking friends, so I'm going to be seeking people out. I'll read all of the art publications, and if it looks like really interesting video-art pieces are out there, I might ask [the filmmakers] to send it to me.
What kind of films do you want to show?
I’m trying to pinpoint where I send the call for entries so I get work that is relevant to what I’m trying to do, so I don’t get every single short film in the world. Part of it is enriching my own viewpoint in experimental film, and being engaged in that conversation is really important. And, of course, I want to bring that conversation to Sacramento, because I think that is a really important aspect of the art world today. Video art, experimental film, electronic art—we really don’t have enough venues that focus on that. The other aspect that I think is really important is to create an engaging environment to see these types of films; how can I take this really beautiful camper and make something different?
The back of the trailer pops open to reveal a miniature kitchen. What’s up with that?
That’s my little kitchen. That’s where I serve the Bundt cakes—I always make Bundt cakes because they kind of go with the ’50s style of the camper, but that’s also where I do the projection because my computer fits up there, so I project from there, too.
David Lynch or Luis Buñuel?
It’s weird: I like love and hate David Lynch, but the amount that I love him is so strong. When I love him, I really love him. So, I would have to go with him. If I show something to my class, like Mulholland Drive, which doesn't follow a narrative that makes sense to them—it's a nonlinear viewing situation—that's very, very close to experimental filmmaking, and so it's something that I'm very familiar with. But when you show it to a student, they want cause and effect, they want to know what the conflict is and how that conflict was dealt with, so that's difficult for me to teach sometimes. But for me, I feel that was a film that I really, really just loved. It was just beyond reason why I loved that film when I saw it.